DFW Music News

Evan Abeele of Memoryhouse Talks Sub Pop, Hockey and Philip Glass

Back in the '90s, Canada's Memoryhouse were one of those bands you would never expect to release an album on Sub Pop. But over the past decade, the Seattle-based label has diversified so much that just about anything goes, including the dream-pop of Evan Abeele and Denise Nouvion.

Driving through West Texas and in anticipation of tonight's show at Dada, Abeele was kind enough to speak about being on the aforementioned label and how his band gets in your face on stage.

I read where you said that you formed the band just to escape the paralysis of winter. That's mostly hyperbole. We were just making fun of band biographies. I think they can be a little ridiculous, so we added a lot of rhetoric and hyperbole. We wanted to joke around and kick the air out of band biographies a bit.

You are regarded as a neo-classical composer. Do you listen to work by Steve Reich, Terry Riley and Philip Glass? Absolutely, we were just listening to Philip Glass and some other modern classical compositions.

Many critics have talked about your recently issued album, The Sideshow Effect, being quite different from the band's earlier EPs. Was it intentional to move in a more rock and pop direction or was that just a natural evolution? It was both a natural evolution and something we really wanted to do. We wanted to embrace rock and we wanted to embrace pop and explore a little country and roots as well. We are big fans of all of those genres. We wanted to show that side of us. We also wanted it to be really clean and organized.

People have struggled to identify your genre. One writer called it sleepwalk pop. I say what we do is just pop music. We think of it sounding like Fleetwood Mac. The way we make music is just really traditional. There's really nothing kooky or off kilter about it. We make straightforward pop music. That's how we like it and that's how we want to present it.

You are from a suburb of Toronto called Guelph and that particular area has produced a number of great bands. It's kind of a small college town. It's really close to Toronto, but I wouldn't classify it as a suburb. Most people see it as that. It's been called the Royal City and the City of Music. It's a popular place for indie rock in Canada. A lot of influential acts have passed through there and it's got a really great sense of musical history.

Don't Broken Social Scene and the Arcade Fire have ties to that area? Absolutely, even in their earliest incarnations they played around town. And it helped to have that kind of talent inspire a lot of other people.

Are you a big Toronto Blue Jays fan? I am a huge hockey fan. I played baseball, but I don't really follow it as much as I should. The hockey playoffs are right now and it's killing me not getting to watch any of the games.

Your album was released on Sub Pop. Were you knowledgeable about the history and traditional of the label? Absolutely, Sub Pop has such an enormous history going back to those early Nirvana releases and the whole grunge scene in the '90s. It's incredible to be associated with a label with such a diverse history. It means a lot to us.

In the early days of the label, a band like yours would never have been part of the roster. The label diversified and they have done a really good job of remaining relevant. Going on 20 to 25 years, not a lot of labels can say that. They came to us. It was too good to be true. For months, I would not let myself believe it. When we finally inked the contract, it became real to me.

For awhile, it was just you and singer Denise Nouvion. Have you expanded the band for this tour? Yes, we added a drummer. Denise plays really huge sounding keyboards and I play some really loud guitar.

That must be quite a bit different than the sound on the album. Yes, absolutely, on the record, it is much more organized. Live, it is much more in your face. That's what I hope gets across.

Memoryhouse performs with The Burning Hotels and Datahowler tonight, May 11, at Dada.

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Darryl Smyers
Contact: Darryl Smyers